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Jeff Ballard 

PATTONVILLE — The difference between what the Texas Comptroller’s Office and the Lamar County Appraisal District values Lamar County property continues to present funding challenges for local school districts.

At a Monday meeting, Prairiland ISD’s trustees contracted Austin school finance attorneys Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson to appeal the 2019 Comptroller’s Property Value Study and attempt to negotiate a settlement. As a fee, the firm charges 10% of the amount of state funding recovered.

“It’s round number two,” Superintendent Jeff Ballard said Wednesday. “The comptroller’s values are almost $268 million, and Lamar County Appraisal District has us at $233 million.”

At the 2019 tax rate of $1.0995 per $100,000 valuation, the $35 million difference would cost the district roughly $400,000 or more in revenue because Texas Education Agency funds schools based on comptroller values while schools collect property taxes based on appraisal district values.

North Lamar and Chisum school districts are expected to appeal again as they did last year. Although Paris ISD local values remain below state values, the district is in the second year of a grace period so Texas Education Agency is expected to use local values in funding formulas, according to comptroller guidelines.

In other business, Prairiland trustees discussed but took no action on the possible purchase of property west of Blossom Elementary.

“The City of Blossom gave us about 40 feet west of the school, and we are in negotiation with a property owner to buy a little more,” Ballard said. “We hope to move parent pickup there to get another exit on to (Highway) 82 to relieve traffic. In the future, we’re looking to add more classrooms.”

Trustees also signed a $20,500 contract with Firetrol Protection Systems of Tyler to replace the original intercom system installed in the early 1970s at the junior high campus.

Mary Madewell is a staff writer for The Paris News. She can be reached at 903-785-6976 or at mary.madewell@theparisnews.com.

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